Bobby Jackson was known for his competitiveness and work ethic during 12 years in the NBA and collegiately at the University of Minnesota. It would appear not much has changed with Jackson as an NBA assistant coach.
The former Gophers star, recently hired by the Timberwolves as a player development assistant coach, has been conducting two-a-day training sessions at Target Center for Chase Budinger, coming off knee surgery, and rookie draft picks Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Lorenzo Brown. Wolves coach Rick Adelman had to pass on some advice to his newest assistant Sunday.
“He called to say I was working the guys too hard,” Jackson said Monday as he met media at Target Center. “He said, ‘I want them to have some legs when training camp starts.’ I had to cut the workouts to one a day.”
Jackson’s move was part of a shuffle in the Wolves’ assistant ranks. David Adelman, one of two player development coaches last season, was promoted to assistant coach. Shawn Respert, the second of the team’s player development coaches last season, did not have the option on his contract picked up.
That will leave Jackson — who played two seasons for the Wolves — a prime role to play with the team’s younger players, including top draft pick Muhammad, who gained a reputation as a “me-first” player at UCLA.
“If he can play defense, he’s going to play,” Jackson said after lauding Muhammad’s offensive skills.
There might not be a better coach to teach youngsters the importance of defense — an offshoot of that competitiveness and work ethic — since that was Jackson’s forte as a player. And it was Adelman as a coach in Sacramento, Jackson said, who shaped him as a player.
“He kind of took me from a loose cannon to a nice young player, so I have a lot of respect for him,” Jackson said.
Jackson coached the past two seasons in Sacramento, but a regime change led to the Kings letting go their entire coaching staff. The team offered Jackson a role, but not as a coach. The Wolves, and the opportunity to learn under Adelman, “was a better opportunity for me. I want to coach.”
Jackson said the only negative is that he has no idea how long Adelman will coach because of the uncertain health of his wife, Mary Kay, who suffered from seizures last season, causing Adelman to miss 11 games in January. Jackson said he has spoken with Adelman, and it’s clear to Jackson that the head coach is preparing to work this season.
“He’s a private guy — he’s not telling anyone what he’s going to do,” Jackson said. “But if the opportunity is there for me to come out and coach and learn from him, even if it’s one year, that’s huge for me.’’